Tim Riley’s Best Albums of 2022

Tim Riley’s Best Albums of 2022

Written by Tim Riley

Country-pop surges, even as Shania Twain and Margo Price stare January down. And as beleaguered as culture feels for the Next Great Consensus, the variety feathering so many different year-end lists, and figures like Rosalia, tells of renewed curiosity across genres. Call it the spoils of a global pandemic.


Adjusted for inflation and last-minute entries. Or: maybe Courtney Barnett, Kacey Musgraves, and Kelly Willis leave too big a hole to fill. King Princess opened for Musgraves back in March, though, and she's a star.

Nikki Lane, Denim & Diamonds (New West)

Sunny Sweeney, Married Alone (Aunt Daddy)

Kelsea Ballerini, Subject to Change (Black River Entertainment)



Tenille Townes, Masquerades (Sony)
Ingrid Andress, Good Person (Warner Music Nashville)
Angel Olsen, Big Time (Jagjaguwar)
Callista Clark, Real to Me (Big Machine)
Brooke Eden, Choosing You (This Is Hit)
Soccer Mommy, Sometimes Forever (Loma Vista)
Morgan Wade, Wilder Days (Ladylike)
Rosalia, Motomami (Columbia)
Alvvays, Blue Rev (Celsius Girls)
Brei Carter, Brand New Country (no label)
Lizzo, Special (Atlantic/Nice Life)
Mary J. Blige, Good Morning Gorgeous (300/Mary Jane Productions)
Beyoncé, Renaissance (Parkwood/Columbia)
King Princess, Hold On Baby (Zelig/Columbia)
Lainey Wilson, Bell Bottom Country (BBR)
Ashley Cooke, Already Drank That Beer (Big Loud)
Built to Spill, When the Wind Forgets Your Name (SUB POP)

King Princess, Hold on Baby, album cover.
King Princess, Hold on Baby, album cover.

Ingrid Andress, Good Person (Warner Music Nashville)
Ashley McBryde, Lindeville (Warner Music Nashville)
Elle King, Come and Get Your Wife (RCA)
Amanda Shires, Take It Like a Man (ATO)
Reigning Sound, Memphis in June (Merge)
Willie Nelson, A Beautiful Time (Legacy)
Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope, 2CD)
Miranda Lambert, Palomino (Vanner/RCA Nashville)
Alana Springsteen, History of Breaking Up (Part Two) (Warehouse West Entertainment)
Stephanie Quayle, On the Edge (Big Sky)
Jo Smith, Wyoming (Cherokee Rose)

Rollovers (from last year)

Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, Raise the Roof (Rounder)
Connie Smith, Cry of the Heart (Fat Possum)
Laci Kaye Booth, Laci Kaye Booth (Big Machine Records)
HunterGirl, One Day (Hunter Girl)
Weyes Blood, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow (SUB POP)
Carly Pearce, 29: Written in Stone (Big Machine Records)

Base Hits

Tasty Television cover from Luna: “Marquee Moon”
“Hey Cola: the Strokes called, they want their riffs back.”


RIP: pianist Lars Vogt 1970 2022

Classical still outsells jazz, but the peaking sub-subset of string quartets remains inexplicable: how many yobs seek out competing editions of Beethoven cycles, or Schubert’s Quintet in C Major, or follow these players live? The constants prove uncanny: Haydn still counts as the space’s crowbar composer. The Quatuor Psophos Haydn disc, Opus 54, has hijacked my attention as strongly as any Haydn release since the Jerusalem Quartet’s op. 20, 34 and 54 (Harmonia Mundi) over 10 years ago. The detail work animates Papa Joe’s larger curves: shapely dynamics, directional phrasing, and keenly felt ensemble – the act of listening feels palpable. (More conductors need to play chamber music.) The group adopted its name in 2016 from Pythagoras, the philosopher who believed music brought inner calm; “Psophos” is Greek for “noise.”

Quatuor Psophos, Haydn String Quartets Opus 54 (Tuor Psophos)

Lars Vogt, In Memoriam (Warners Classics)
Igor Levit, Tristan (Sony)
Jubilee Quartet, Schubert: String Quartet in E-Flat Major, D. 87 and String Quartet in G Major, D. 887 (Jubilee)
Herbert Blomstedt, Gewandhausorchester, Schubert Symphonies Nos. 8 “Unfinished” and 9 “The Great” (Deutsche Grammophon)
Leif Ove Andsnes, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Chrstiane Karg, Matthew Truscott, Joel Hunter and Frank Guthmann, Mozart Momentum — 1786 (Sony)
Alisa Weilerstein, Inon Barnatan, Beethoven Cello Sonatas (PentaTone)
Pavel Haas Quartet, Pavel Nikl, Boris Giltburg, Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34; String Quintet in G major, Op. 111 (Supraphon)
Lisa Batiashvili, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Giorgi Gigashvili, Secret Love Letters (DG)
Paul Lewis, Brahms Late Piano Works, Opp. 116 –119 (Harmonia Mundi)
Ádám Fisher, Danish Chamber Orchestra, Brahms Complete Symphonies (Naxos)
Peter Sheppard Skærved and Daniel-Ben Pienaar, Mozart: The Palatine Sonatas, K. 301 – 306 (Athene)*

*friend of a friend

Paul Lewis, Brahms Late Piano Works, Opp. 116 –119, album cover.
Paul Lewis, Brahms Late Piano Works, Opp. 116 –119, album cover.


Classical Reissues

Warner Classics has launched a notable reissue campaign for Walter Gieseking, the French-born German pianist best known for his glittering Debussy. These include sets of Mozart, Grieg, Schumann, and Ravel, with a handsome catch-all. Don’t overlook his winning Bach box from 2017 (DG).

Pop/Rock Reissues/Singles/Etc.

We act like there’s a paradigm because there is one, it’s just not the only one. David Bowie’s Chuck Berry cover makes the perfect choice for this androgynous unicorn, and would have grounded Pin Ups if he ever gave a damn about context. Also, the “Changes” demo here runs atop deep undercurrents. And spinning out from an avalanche of live recordings coming out of New Jersey, pieces of Madison Square Garden’s roof are still falling back to earth from Springsteen’s 1979 No Nukes show. Forget that neutered Gentleman Soul lounge act… 

David Bowie, “Almost Grown” from A Divine Symmetry: The Journey to “Hunky Dory” (ISO/Parlophone)
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts (Sony)
Lou Reed, Words & Music, May 1965 (Light in the Attic)
Ride, “Vapour Trail (Vapour Mix),” featuring Robert Smith (Eat Your Own Ears)
Patrice Rushen, Straight from the Heart (Elektra)
Plainsong, In Search of Amelia Earhart (Elektra)
Rolling Stones, Live at the El Mocambo (Polydor)
Beach Boys, Sail on Sailor [Deluxe] (Capitol Catalog MKT)
Various, Summer of Soul ( …Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised): A Questlove Jam [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1969, Legacy)
The Beatles, Revolver [Super Deluxe] (Universal Music)
Sonic Youth, In/Out/In (Three Lobed)
Prince and the Revolution, Live (1985, NPG/Legacy -2CD)
Pavement, Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal (Matador)
Neil Young, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 1971 (Reprise)
Creedence Clearwater Revival At the Royal Albert Hall, April 14, 1970 (Craft)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Los Angeles Forum – April 26, 1969 (Legacy/Experience Hendrix)

Sonic Youth, In/Out/In, album cover.
Sonic Youth, In/Out/In, album cover.

Pop/Rock Compilations

The Toytown Pop Sound recalls a phase that proved Paul McCartney need not exist, but seeded music with more punch and verve when it sprouted “power pop.”

Various, Climb Aboard My Roundabout! The British Toytown Pop Sound 1967-1974 (Grapefruit)proof that Paul McCartney need not exist.
Various, John Sinclair Presents Detroit Artists Workshop (Strut Records)
Various, Gotta Get A Good Thing Goin’: The Music of Black Britain In The Sixties (Strawberry Records)
Various, Miles Out to Sea: The Roots of British Power Pop 1969-1975 (Grapefruit)
Various, Biff Bang Pow! Better Life: Complete Creations 1984-1991 (Cherry Red)


Header image: Nikki Lane, Denim & Diamonds, album cover.

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